Truthquest History Guides: Literature Based and Super Flexible!

I’ve always loved books. And I’ve always loved history. So, when I began to research home education options for my children way back when the Dancer (13) was just a baby, the literature-based approach immediately caught my attention! It just clicked. I’ve always said that I learned more from historical fiction, classic literature, and other reading I did on my own than I ever learned in a classroom.

So, since the very beginning, this is the approach I’ve used with my kids. Our family has thrived with this approach. We’ve used several different curriculums throughout the years, and I’ve always customized them to meet our needs. I’ve heard great things about TruthQuest History in the last several years but haven’t had the opportunity to really check it out. To my delight, I received their Beginnings Guide, which covers Creation/Old Testament/Ancients/Egypt, to review recently.

Here’s how TruthQuest describes itself:

TruthQuest History is a deep and rich literature-based history study…but with a difference. You will not learn the story of mankind; you will learn the lovestory of mankind. You will not focus on the rise and fall of human civilizations; you will focus on the arrow-straight line of God’s unchanging existence, power, love, truth, and plan for civilization. You will not simply ‘meet the culture’ or ‘get the facts;’ you will probe the truths of history so deeply that your students will be equipped to change their world! 

God initiates…people respond….history happens.

So how exactly does it work?

Each guide contains a chronological series of lessons on that particular time period. The lessons consist of a commentary or essay from a Biblical perspective that’s designed to “prime” your kids to look for the underlying spiritual issues behind historical events, incrementally and subtly weaving together the deepest issues of that particular era of history. This is followed by an incredibly comprehensive list of living books to choose from that correspond with the given topic, for a wide range of ages. You can choose to read as many or as few as you’d like. Several “spine” type books, like Story of the World, are suggested, and corresponding readings to each lesson are given, but they aren’t a requirement. In fact, the entire course can be completed using nothing but the guide and a Bible, if you prefer! Every so often, there are assignments called ThinkWrites, that encourage the student to digest and process what they’re learning through a short writing assignment.

So what do I think?

I love the story approach to history! History is a story, not a series of factoids to memorize. If you know me, you know that the idea that the Bible (and all of history!) is one big story of redemption is something I think is absolutely crucial to get across to our children. TruthQuest goes right along with that line of thinking. Integrating biblical events with what’s going on in the rest of the world is a big deal to me too, and TruthQuest appears to do an excellent job at this as well.

I appreciate the conversational tone of the lessons, which is maintained even while conveying deep insights into the how and why behind all of history. This is definitely not dry, boring, textbook material! And the book lists are fantastic…there’s bound to be something there that will work for everyone!

On the practical side, I’m also very impressed! The price and flexibility are both fantastic! I’m a planner, and I usually like to have a set schedule of what exactly we need to accomplish each year. But with the wide age range I have, and only limited time to spend one-on-one with each child,  I like the idea of just picking from a list and not having such a rigid regimen.

I’ve just about convinced myself to use this for Karate Kid (11) next year, and I’ll very likely add Peanut (6) in also, using age appropriate books. I have many of the books on the book list for the Beginnings Guide already, and plenty more that would fit in just fine. There are also plenty of public domain titles that can be found online free or nearly free, which we can just put on the Kindle or iPad and dive into! Having them on the same track and using a more relaxed approach, where we just work our way through the guide at our own pace rather than being tied to a schedule, will leave me more time and energy to focus on the Dancer’s first year of high school.

As the years go on, and my time has more and more demands on it, I’ve found myself relaxing my schedules anyway. Reading the lessons and picking a few books from the book list as we go along sounds very appealing, rather than having to rework a schedule that’s already set up to read certain pages on certain days.

I love how easy TruthQuest makes it to pursue your child’s interests. If they find a particular topic fascinating, add a whole pile of books and spend awhile on it! On other lessons, maybe you’ll just read one or two, or even just read the lesson itself and move on. And the lesson itself doesn’t necessarily have to be read word for word, especially with younger kids. Use it as a jumping off point for discussion! The author is a huge advocate of using the lessons and reading as a springboard for family discussions. Often this will be where the real learning will take place!

On the other hand, there are those who sit down and break the guide up into a schedule to fit into a certain timeframe. You can use one guide for an entire year or go more quickly. For those who want activities, there are lapbook and notebooking guides available that correspond with each guide, and an online community with all kinds of resources and suggestions. So you can keep it as simple or make it as comprehensive as you want. It’s completely customizable!

The World History Guides are written with grades 5-12 in mind, although younger children can participate and have book suggestions included. There is also an American History series that is geared for grades 1-5. The Beginnings Guide that I received runs $29.95 for a bound copy or $23.95 for a PDF file, and the others all seem to be within a few dollars of that. The website includes the table of contents, a sample lesson, and a list of optional “spines” for each guide. Here they are for the Beginnings Guide:

Table of Contents
Sample Section
Optional “Spines”

If you’re looking for an affordable, flexible, literature-based approach to history that can be used with multiple ages, definitely give TruthQuest History a look! Also be sure to visit the crew blog to see what other home educators had to say about it!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary PDF copy of the TruthQuest History Beginnings Guide for review purposes. I received no other compensation, and all opinions are my own.

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  1. Love your review. It is right on the money. We reviewed the same item and LOVED it!! I think the price is incredible and the flexibility is just what we've been looking for. I hope your journey through "Beginnings" next year is a blessing to you all.Heather

  2. This is such a thorough, well done review. It is so full of good information! Thanks so much.Warmly,Kate

  3. Too funny! I found your blog on FB b/c it is a similiar name to mind and then noticed you had a Truth Quest review and wondered if you were on the Crew. So am I! 🙂 I plan to check out your blog some more! 🙂

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